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Robert Creeley

Simon Pettet’s Calling

An introduction to Simon Pettet’s Come Va, a book of poems in English and Italian, translated by Alberto Masala and others, to be published by Porto dei Santi, Sardinia.

In any place, any time, there’s a sudden light, or lift of breeze, a bird just settling, paper fluttering down, beloved’s face changing from smile to frown — to smile again perhaps. There are no rewards to be gained, no purposes simply to be respected. If there’s a job, one does it, like everyone else, going to work. No one’s ever keeping score but one keeps at it despite.

Poetry isn’t just the time out, when there’s respite ‘far from the madding crowd.’ Nine tenths of us would probably get lost in the woods while the rest would never leave the city, to begin with. It’s not ‘emotions recollected in tranquility,’ great though that sounds, because there’s not that chance. One keeps at it and if there is a space, it’s usually filled with waiting for something or someone, who said they’d be here at seven. It’s not apart, ever, but always as particular as whistling, or catching something thrown, hopefully not in anger.

This isn’t to say that a poet never gets to sleep but it is to make clear that a poet, at least one like Simon Pettet, is always on the job, always available, always moving to the next moment. So much of one’s life is graphed out (grossed out?) with determining patterns, and one can’t really treat the squares like hopscotch. It can never be ‘hop, skip and a jump’ for the self-invested traveler, just more and more money, presuming luck. I recall a statement made by a previous U.S. Secretary of State, to the effect that while two thirds of the human race is asleep, the remaining third is awake and probably up to some mischief. Clearly, he was never amused.

‘For A Muse Ment’ is the title the poet Robert Duncan once gave a poem, dedicating it to his peer and alter ego, the British-American poet Denise Levertov. Amusement is a full time preoccupation, and, as Rimbaud usefully insisted, one is wise to make ‘the magical study’ which happiness is. Just so the fact of William and Catherine Blake sitting stark naked in their small back garden in Lambeth, reading Milton’s Paradise Lost. When a friend surprised them there, Blake’s response was, ‘It’s only Adam and Eve, you know.’

I wish I were in my own garden now, naked or not, reading Simon Pettet. He has been such a bright and consistent light amidst the usual gathering glooms. He lives as though life were its own pleasure, which it is and must obviously be. He sounds those same simplicities of profound music Blake also knew. He moves with a deft and practiced quiet. ‘It is as though he were telling us/ that this small space/ contains the pattern for/ all eternity.’ He speaks the truth.

— Robert Creeley

Waldoboro, Maine
September 28, 2002

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